Rugby league stars will commit to extra workload if consulted says union boss

Rugby league players are prepared to put their bodies on the line to complete the 2020 season – but their welfare must be taken into account.

That’s the verdict of GMB head rep and former Great Britain prop Garreth Carvell, who has been in regular contact with the sport’s top stars.

Around 65 percent of rugby league’s players across three professional divisions – a figure that is increasing weekly – are members of the union, who have been involved in talks over midweek matches once the season is allowed to restart.

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington raised eyebrows when saying he didn’t want to hear "whining" about player welfare over multiple games a week – but Carvell insists the workload needs to be sensible.

Carvell said: “The players are willing to do anything they can, as long as there’s transparency and honesty between everybody.

“Historically the trust between players and clubs has diminished somewhat and we’re trying to build that back up.

“The feedback from the players is that they are more than ready to play their part, but everything needs to be a massive joint effort.

“The welfare side of it always has to be a consideration and we’ve spoken to the RFL at length about it. Whenever they’ve laid out their scheduling recently, player welfare has been at the forefront of it and that’s common sense.

“I think what Gary was trying to say is that there will are going to be extra fixtures in the calendar and there’s no doubt there is.

“There might be times when players have to play three times 10 days. But that might only happen maybe two or three times.

“For a start people that haven’t been working won’t be able to afford to go to three games a week regularly, and from a quality point of view the matches would be terrible, with players’ fatigue putting them at higher risk of injury.

“But the players know that certain things will have to happen once this is over with and they have no problem playing their part.”

Carvell has also taken on board Toronto coach Brian McDermott’s plan to play hour-long matches in four 15-minute quarters, and has his own proposal to help the situation if matches before more frequent.

He added: “I’m willing to listen to anything and having hour-long games split into four would mean that players have more rest.

“If we do need to play more games it might be worth looking at and I’d like to see the number of substitutes allowed being increased, perhaps having extra players on the bench for injuries.

“That might ease the wear and tear on players if there are more matches.”

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